The prominent Grade II listed building in Old Town - Apsley House - will be offered for sale and local groups will have the chance to stake a claim for it.
Apsley House - located on Bath Road - is best known as being the former home of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, but has been closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic as its split levels and limited capacity made social distancing extremely challenging.
Swindon Borough Council has since taken the decision to move the museum and art collections to a semi-permanent home at the Council’s Civic Offices in Euclid Street until plans for a new facility in the town’s proposed Cultural Quarter come forward.
With preparations to create the new home at the Civic Offices underway and some of the collection already on display, the Council has begun the process of marketing Apsley House so it can be brought back into use.
However, as the property has been listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), the Council has a legal obligation to offer it to all community organisations first who have six weeks to decide if they wish to a trigger a moratorium.
The council says a moratorium would give community groups a minimum of six months to put bids together to look to buy the property while it is being marketed and the Council would be unable to sell it to any other organisation before this date. The process does not require the Council to dispose of the property to a community group, or at a discounted sale price.
Swindon Borough Council added that any money raised from the sale of Apsley House would be used to best support the delivery of a brand new museum and art gallery within Swindon’s Cultural Quarter.
Aspley House was built between 1830 and 1840, and was used as a residence until being utilised as a museum and art gallery for many years.
As well as being a Grade II listed building it is housed within a Conservation Area and has a 1960s side and rear extension, which was formerly used as a gallery space accessed through Apsley House.
The lower floors of the extension are subdivided and leased on commercial business tenancies. Along with potential community interest, it is anticipated that Apsley House would be attractive to developers and occupiers looking to undertake a redevelopment or a change of use.
Cllr Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Finance and Commercialisation, said: “Apsley House holds a special place in the hearts of many local residents and we want to ensure it is brought back into use as soon as is practically possible.
“We have already had some interest, but will wait to hear from community groups and organisations in the first instance to see if they would want to trigger the moratorium as part of the sale process.
“The Grade II listing means Apsley House itself will be protected and I look forward to seeing what proposals come forward.”